I haven’t looked at my phone all day. I’ve been up since 5:30 am and haven’t stopped since. These days, I feel like I’m in a fog, going through the motions just to keep me and my son’s head above water. Shower, dress, make breakfast, chug coffee, get my son ready for daycare, drop him off at school, drive to my job, work 8 hours, pick up my kid if it’s my day, play with him, make dinner, read bedtime stories, spend 20 minutes struggling to get him to go to bed, clean up, eat cold leftovers, read a few emails, then drag my weary butt to bed.
Rinse and Repeat.
If I’m lucky, I have an afternoon to enjoy happy hour with friends. If I’m lucky, I have a Sunday morning to scrub the floors which are caked with dirt, abandoned cheerios and forgotten milk spilled in crevices. If I’m lucky, I get to do yoga or watch that one movie or read that one book.
If I’m lucky…
Saying that single motherhood is difficult is an understatement. And dating as a single mother is nearly impossible. It’s time you don’t have. It’s energy you can’t muster. It’s money you don’t want to spend. The unknown of dating used to be thrilling and exciting. But that was when you were dating for one. Now you’re dating for two and that’s a lot of pressure on you as a mom and him as a potential candidate.
When I finally look at my phone, I see that I have 17 new “flirts” and 5 messages from a dating site I was talked into joining. From time to time, I entertain the idea of meeting Prince Charming but, for the most part, online dating just seems like another burden I’m not sure I can take on.
To be honest, I don’t understand the “flirt” thing. From what I gather, it’s a way of letting someone know you’re interested without investing any real effort into reaching out or leaving a message. “Sign of the times,” I mutter under my breath as I open the app, more out of an unexplainable obligation than actual curiosity. This sort of thing used to be fun, back when I was young, frivolous and childless. Now, it just seems exhausting.
I quickly read over the messages in my inbox, routinely checking on my son out of the corner of my eye. He’s ramming two toy trucks into each other and making “vroom” noises. I glance up to see that he’s crushed his blueberries beneath the wheels of the trucks.
When I wasn’t single, I would have stopped him. I would have explained that he was making a mess and given him a napkin to clean up the blueberries. But it would be the hundredth time I have told him to stop doing something today and I just feel deflated.
I was a better mom when his dad and I were together. I wasn’t a better person, but I was a better mom. We were a team. It’s easier to take breathers and regroup when you’re part of a team. When you’re on your own, every step can feel like a marathon.
A message from Here4aGoodTime pops up. I laugh and wonder if spending a Friday night watching cartoons with my toddler would constitute a “good time” to him. I wonder if he would mind squished blueberries or scattered cheerios or battles to go to sleep.
Because those are the things you have to think about when you are a single mom in the dating world. You don’t get to just think about how your butt looks in those jeans or if you have food stuck in your teeth. Instead, you have to think about finding a babysitter to even go on a date. You have to think about if this person would mind dating two people or if he would make a good dad or if he even wants to be a dad.
It’s not all bad, though. Sometimes you catch a cute guy smiling at you while you’re playing with your kid at the park. Sometimes you get to flirt with an old flame over late-night texts. Sometimes you get a message from a guy in your inbox that makes you laugh.
Sometimes there is hope. And sometimes you allow yourself to think of all the good things the future may hold for you and your child.
“Hey beautiful” Here4aGoodTime writes with a winking emoticon. I don’t reply. I have a toddler that needs me more right now.
But I do allow myself to smile a little.